Ask Billboard: The All-Pharrell Edition

Mark Davis/Getty Images for BET

Pharrell Williams performs onstage during the 2013 BET Awards in Los Angeles, California.

Readers discuss other acts who've hit No. 1 solo, with duets and as part of trios, Oscar songs on the Hot 100 & more

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Hi Gary,
With "Happy" reaching No. 1 on this week's Billboard Hot 100, Pharrell Williams becomes the latest member of the solo/duo/trio No. 1 club, a rather exclusive group of acts that have reached No. 1 separately as a solo act; as half of a duo; and as one-third of a trio (or, at least, a triple-billed No. 1). Williams has previously topped the chart as part of a twosome, as featured on Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" (2004) and Ludacris's "Money Maker" (2006), and threesome, thanks to Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," featuring Williams and T.I., last year.

Among the other acts who have achieved this incredibly difficult accomplishment:

Paul McCartney
Solo, although credited as "with Wings"; duets with Linda McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson; and, technically, as a trio with "Band on the Run," on whom he, Linda and Denny Laine were the only personnel. McCartney is unique in that he has also reached No. 1 with a quartet (20 Beatles' No. 1s) and a quintet (the Beatles' 1969 leader "Get Back" features Billy Preston).

Diana Ross
Five solo No. 1s; her duet "Endless Love" with Lionel Richie; and as a trio with the Supremes (12 No. 1s)

Phil Collins
Six solo No. 1s; his duet "Separate Lives" with Marilyn Martin; and as a trio with Genesis (1986's "Invisible Touch")

Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado
Both carry cards for the club, as they've each notched solo leaders: teamed with Timbaland on 2007's "Give It to Me"; and, each has duetted, Timberlake with T.I. ("My Love") and Furtado with Timbaland ("Promiscuous")

The rapper/singer boasts four such machinations: solo ("Hot in Herre"); his duet with Kelly Rowland ("Dilemma"); as a trio with Diddy and Murphy Lee ("Shake Ya Tailfeather"); and, as a quartet with Paul Wall, Ali and Gipp ("Grillz")

Two solo No. 1s; three with featured artists Jay Z, Sean Paul and Slim Thug, respectively; and, of course, as a trio with Destiny's Child (four No. 1s)

Solo ("Whatever You Like"); as featured on Timberlake's "My Love" and featuring Rihanna ("Live Your Life"); and as one of three acts on "Blurred Lines"

Kanye West
Solo ("Stronger"); team ups with Katy Perry and Jamie Foxx; and, with Twista's "Slow Jamz," featuring West and Foxx

Eminem, 50 Cent
Both boast unaccompanied No. 1s; leaders with one other act; and, both are credited with Dr. Dre on 2009's "Crack a Bottle."

Maybe you and Chart Beat readers can add to the list?


Patrick Kelly
Brampton, Ontario

Thanks Patrick,

Great observation! It certainly shows not only acts' talent to tally multiple Hot 100 No. 1s, but also the versatility that artists like Pharrell possess. (Although … is "Happy" really a solo hit? Pharrell's hat is okay not accepting any credit? Hmm, hard to tell …)

Here's who I'll add to the list. Readers, feel free to chime in if we've missed anyone:

Mariah Carey
Of her 18 Hot 100 No. 1s, one is an equally-billed duet ("One Sweet Day," with Boyz II Men); one features Jay Z ("Heartbreaker"); and one features Joe and 98 Degrees ("Thank God I Found You").

His nine No. 1s include five on his own; three with one other act, including 2004's co-billed "My Boo," with Alicia Keys; and, earlier that year, "Yeah!," featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris.

As for those who almost qualify:

Christina Aguilera and P!nk have each reigned solo, with one other act and together as part of a quartet with Lil' Kim and Mya. So, each is shy of a No. 1 as part of a trio.

Speaking of P!nk, thanks to last year's "Just Give Me a Reason," Nate Ruess has notched a No. 1 as part of a duo and trio, thanks to fun.'s "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae, so it's also kind of a quartet, actually …)

Diddy has posted five No. 1s, with, coincidentally, three with three acts and two with two. He's missing only a No. 1 by himself.

Sting is an interesting case: his two No. 1s are both as part of trios: the Police's eight-week 1983 topper "Every Breath You Take" (covered by Lea Michele and Naya Rivera on "Glee" this week) and 1994's three-week No. 1 "All for Love" with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart.
And, Will Smith, the first guest on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" last week, also narrowly misses entrance to the club. He's ruled solo with "Getting' Jiggy Wit It" and "Wild Wild West" features Dru Hill and Kool Mo Dee. And, while they never topped the Hot 100, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince gave Smith his start. The pair peaked as high as No. 4 with "Summertime" in 1991.

(As far as I know, "Summertime" is a song about a fictional time of year that's warm and no snow falls. Great imagination, that Will Smith has.)

(Sorry, let's keep things "Happy"!)

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Dear Gary,

With "Happy" by Pharrell Williams topping the Hot 100, and since it's Oscar season, the song is the latest in the line of Oscar-nominated (and perhaps winning?) hits to top the Hot 100.

Can you please provide a list of Oscar-winning songs that have charted on the Hot 100?

Thank you,

Jesper Tan
Subang Jaya, Malaysia

Hi Jesper,

We'll find out Sunday night if "Happy" joins the list of Academy Award-winning best original songs. If it does, it will become the first best original song to crown the Hot 100 since Eminem's 2002 smash from "8 Mile," "Lose Yourself."

In the meantime, here's an updated list, through last year, of all the prior champs that have appeared on the Hot 100. (In cases where multiple versions of songs appeared on the Hot 100, the highest-charting version is listed):

Winning Year, Peak Pos., Title, Artist

2012, No. 8, "Skyfall," Adele

2008, No. 15, "Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)," A R Rahman & the Pussycat Dolls featuring Nicole Scherzinger
2007, No. 61, "Falling Slowly," the Swell Season (Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova)
2002, No. 1 (12 weeks), "Lose Yourself," Eminem

1999, No. 21, "You'll Be in My Heart," Phil Collins
1998, No. 15, "When You Believe," Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey
1997, No. 1 (two weeks), "My Heart Will Go On," Celine Dion
1996, No. 18, "You Must Love Me," Madonna
1995, No. 4, "Colors of the Wind," Vanessa Williams
1994, No. 4, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," Elton John
1993, No. 9, "Streets of Philadelphia," Bruce Springsteen
1992, No. 1 (one week), "A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme)," Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle
1991, No. 9, "Beauty and the Beast," Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson

1988, No. 49, "Let the River Run," Carly Simon
1987, No. 1 (one week), "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
1986, No. 1 (one week), "Take My Breath Away," Berlin
1985, No. 1 (four weeks), "Say You, Say Me," Lionel Richie
1984, No. 1 (three weeks), "I Just Called to Say I Love You," Stevie Wonder

1983, No. 1 (six weeks), "Flashdance...What a Feeling," Irene Cara
1982, No. 1 (three weeks), "Up Where We Belong," Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
1981, No. 1 (three weeks), "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," Christopher Cross
1980, No. 4, "Fame," Irene Cara

1978, No. 3, "Last Dance," Donna Summer
1977, No. 1 (10 weeks), "You Light Up My Life," Debby Boone
1976, No. 1 (three weeks), "Evergreen (Love Theme From 'A Star Is Born')," Barbra Streisand
1975, No. 17, "I'm Easy," Keith Carradine
1974, No. 83, "We May Never Love Like This Again," Maureen McGovern
1973, No. 1 (three weeks), "The Way We Were," Barbra Streisand
1972, No. 1 (two weeks), "The Morning After," Maureen McGovern
1971, No. 1 (two weeks), "Theme from Shaft," Isaac Hayes
1970, No. 3, "For All We Know," Carpenters

1969, No. 1 (four weeks), "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," B.J. Thomas
1968, No. 31, "The Windmills of Your Mind," Dusty Springfield
1966, No. 7, "Born Free," Roger Williams
1965, No. 93, "The Shadow of Your Smile," Boots Randolph
1964, No. 81, "Chim, Chim, Cheree," the New Christy Minstrels
1963, No. 78, "Call Me Irresponsible," Frank Sinatra
1962, No. 33, "Days of Wine and Roses," Henry Mancini and His Orchestra
1961, No. 11, "Moon River," Henry Mancini and His Orchestra
1960, No. 19, "Never on Sunday," Don Costa and His Orchestra and Chorus

1959, No. 30, "High Hopes," Frank Sinatra "and a Bunch of Kids"

In addition to "Happy," "Let It Go," from "Frozen," is up for the honor. It's so far reached No. 18 for Idina Menzel and No. 38 for Demi Lovato. The other charted nominee, U2's "Ordinary Love," from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," debuts at No. 99.

Speaking of movies, with "Happy" from "Despicable Me: 2," Billboard's Keith Caulfield covers the history made this week with a song from an animated film atop the Hot 100 and a soundtrack to an animated movie, "Frozen," leading the Billboard 200, a simultaneous feat never achieved until this week.

We've also compiled the top 50 Hot 100 hits from movies. (One of my favorites? No. 39, since I got to play the role of director Ethan Hawke last year [marking one of the only things we have in common] and recreate one of the most memorable videos of the '90s.)

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20



I'm simply ecstatic about the ascent of "Happy." Kind of cool that Pharrell didn't even need his performance this coming Sunday at the Academy Awards to push up to the top spot.

I also know that racial issues aren't discussed so much when it comes to chart success, but I think it's wonderful that there's at least one African-American male credited in each of the top five on the Hot 100 this week: Pharrell, Juicy J, Jason DeRulo, 2 Chainz, John Legend and Jay Z (with two of those men, Pharrell and Jay Z, being more than 40 years young!) And, of course, in terms of African-American females, there's Beyonce at No. 5.

And, we also have our latest No. 1 song whose title is a one-word adjective. "Happy" joins hits like "Smooth," "Unpretty," "Irreplaceable" and so on.

"Happy" days are here again,

Pablo Nelson
Oakland, California

Thanks Pablo.

With Pharrell now at No. 1, it's spurred talk about the racial breakdown of hits atop the Hot 100 in recent months. Check out Gail Mitchell's insightful take here.

As for one-word-adjective No. 1s, Pharrell is the first since ... "3" by Britney Spears in 2009? (Is "3" a noun in the song?) If not, I'd say the No. 1 before that, Jay Sean's "Down," featuring Lil Wayne, as "down" seems to be an adjective, not an adverb in this case ("Baby, are you down?")

The others before that (which I think are easier to tell …):

"Low," Flo Rida (2008)
"Stronger," Kanye West (2007)

"Glamorous," Fergie feat. Ludacris (2007)
"Irreplaceable," Beyonce (2006)
"Foolish," Ashanti (2002)
"Incomplete," Sisqo (2000)
"Bent," matchbox twenty (2000)
"Amazed," Lonestar (2000)

"Smooth," Santana feat. Rob Thomas (1999)
"Unpretty," TLC (1999)
"Weak," SWV (1993)
"Romantic," Karyn White (1991)
"Unbelievable," EMF (1991)

"Satisfied," Richard Marx (1989)
"Bad," Michael Jackson (1987)
"Alone," Heart (1987)
"Human," Human League (1986)
"Footloose," Kenny Loggins (1984)
"Physical," Olivia Newton-John (1981)

And … "Dizzy," Tommy Roe (1969)

As for the last No. 1, Roe, now 71, remains active and is set to perform in August as part of a celebratory "Beatle Week" in Liverpool. Having notched 11 top 40 Hot 100 hits in 1962-71, "I was called the 'King of Bubblegum'," he said recently. "[But] bubblegum music is alive and well [thanks to] the likes of Michael Jackson and Justin Bieber. The genre has certainly survived, and, because of the recording technology, it has improved, as well."

Roe additionally remembers the origins of "Dizzy." "I wrote 'Dizzy' with my old pal Freddy Weller, as we toured on Dick Clark's 'Caravan of Stars.'

"I guess we were just dizzy from all the bus tours."


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